Thursday, April 7, 2011


Telling myself I need to be holding the Poppet while she sleep-feeds, rather than cleaning the house, I have been re-reading Elizabeth Goudge's Eliot's of Damerosehay trilogy.
I am presently up to the middle book, The Herb of Grace.  Goudge's novels are, for me, the height of nostalgia. They have a tartness, richness, denseness, gracefulness that seems so rare and precious today. 
They remind me of my dearly beloved Great Aunts who lived similarly disciplined, graceful, bountiful lives. I imagine Elizabeth Goudge must have been a similar sort of person, and would have found them kindred spirits. I am not so confident that she would have found me a kindred spirit, but I heartily wish that she would have.
The Herb of Grace is a luminous jewel of a book, set just after the second world war and is about a family buying a lovely old inn beside a river and restoring it - but it is also about faith, forgiveness, self-denial, the joys of family, of the world, the yearning for the hereafter and the intricacies and bonds of family. 
Goudge delights in poetry and the beauty of the natural world and her writing celebrates her joy. She loves her characters with all their many flaws and I cannot help but love them to. Whenever I read her books I always wish I was a better person, more disciplined, more self denying, more full of grace, and now I dearly wish the same beautiful burden on my little Poppet.
Asleep in my arms her face is indescribably sweet and dainty, an old fashioned girl wearing an old fashioned white dress sprigged with blue flowers. She looks as if she had stepped (crawled) out of one of Goudge's novels. 
I wish, I wish I could give her the same beautiful world. 
But already she is reaching for computers, mobiles, hearing songs on the radio that would make Goudge weep. All I can do is try to ensure my Poppet is surrounded in the best of both worlds and pray that her life is full of grace and joy.

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